Situation of Syrian Jews Worsening

Foreign Minister Abba Eban reported to the Knesset last night that the situation of Syrian Jews has worsened in recent months. He said at least 12 Jews, most of them young, have been arrested and are being held without trial, their fate still unknown. According to Eban, a “considerable number of Syrian Jewish families have been detained for questioning and subjected to “indescribable torture.”

Eban said that in general, the 4,500 Jews in Syria are virtual hostages, forbidden to leave the country or to travel more than two miles from their homes. They are forced to live in ghettos and are subject to arbitrary arrest, questioning, torture and surprise searches. Eban said there has been some improvement in the condition of the remaining Jewish communities in Egypt and Iraq which he attributed to the weight of world opinion.

Eban said that Jewish and non-Jewish organizations around the world have been aroused to the plight of Syrian Jews. The Damascus regime, unable to ignore these protests, has fabricated stories to the effect that Syrian Jews lead a normal, peaceful life. But these stories have not convinced anybody, Eban said. He said Israel would not let up in its campaign until the last Jew has been “freed from bondage in Syria.”

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